While over at my sister-in-laws place, I noticed she had this lovely decorative potted plant with spiky leaves. A native of the Americas, the Yucca plant is favoured in many gardens around Sydney for it's bold, architectural shape. However, while fashionable in look, the Yucca plant has been known to cause ear (and eye) injuries due to its sword-shaped leaves.
Many gardeners are aware to protect their eyes when handling this plant, but some don't realize the potential damage which can be done to their ears by those thin leaves. As beautiful as this plant is, it has been known to cause eardrum perforations (1), vestibular (balance) symptoms and even permanent hearing loss (2). Although perforations can heal over with time or be fixed with surgery, damage further within the ear is not so easy to fix.
What should you do if you do have an ear injury? We recommend you seek medical help as soon as possible to ensure appropriate treatment is given and to reduce the risk of any further complications.
And a general gardening tip from us would be to not only protect your eyes, but also your ears when handling Yucca plants (and indeed, any spiky plant).
1. Talmi, Y. P., Wolf, M., Migirov, L., & Kronenberg, J. (2009). Ear trauma caused by a yucca plant leaf spine. ENT: Ear, Nose & Throat Journal.
2. Vartanyan, M., Orimoto, K., Dragovic, A. S., Crock, C., Dobson, M., & O'Leary, S. (2018). Garden terror—Case series of twenty‐eight serious ear injuries caused by yucca plants. Clinical Otolaryngology, 43(2), 749-753.